By Alin K. Gregorian
BELMONT, Mass. — Member of Parliament in Turkey Garo Paylan received a hero’s welcome for a standing-room-only talk at the First Armenian Church on Tuesday, October 4, for his first appearance in Massachusetts, at a program co-sponsored by the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), the Tekeyan Cultural Association, and several others.
Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian welcomed Paylan. “To our brother, Garo, welcome to the beautiful Armenian community of Boston. Our brothers and sisters in other countries face repercussions and retaliation. We will use our freedom of assembly to listen.”
Paylan, who hails from Malatya, is a co-founder of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), the left-leaning, majority-Kurdish party. He represents a district of Istanbul in the National Assembly. The veteran human rights activist seemed taken aback by the thunderous reception and standing ovation greeting him. Soft spoken, he thanked the crowd in Armenian (Shad shenorhagal em), as he launched into his talk in English.
Paylan continued to shock the audience by his openness. He was asked if he was worried about his own safety or that of the Armenian community. “Your worries are real issues. The example is Hrant Dink. [But] What about Sevag Balikçi in the army? He said nothing about Armenian issues and they killed him as well.”